Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The worrying number of petitions setting out cases of discrimination in the European Union reflect a serious and unacceptable threat to fundamental rights that has no place in any aspect of life. The proposal for a Council Directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment for people irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation (the “horizontal Anti-Discrimination Directive”) remains blocked in the Council. Fourteen years on, surely it is time to act? We call on the Commission to propose new anti-discrimination legislation and urge Member States to effectively tackle every alleged case of discrimination and to deal with them in accordance with EU and national law.
In an opinion presented to the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament, we proposed a mechanism for the regular assessment of the status of fundamental rights, especially with regard to the right to non-discrimination, since this constitutes one of the most frequently violated rights.
The most frequent violations in the European Union include the following:
LGBTI people face some of the biggest challenges as far as fundamental rights are concerned, in particular, the right to non-discrimination. We believe that the right of a person to self-determination of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity is inviolable. Yet, despite the progress made in recent years with regard to LGBTI acceptance, the situation of LGBTI people in the EU remains critical, as they continue to be the targets of discrimination. In fact, there has been an increase in the number of cases of discrimination on various grounds, in particular on the basis of a person’s sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, making it all the more vital to ensure that the Charter is upheld and adhered to by using all the legal instruments provided. We call on the Commission and the Fundamental Rights Agency to work together to raise awareness about the problem, in order to guarantee equality for all EU citizens.
In the draft opinion on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union’s annual reports for the years 2020 and 2021, we highlight the importance of the child’s best interests when it comes to cross-border family litigation. We also stress the importance of close cooperation and efficient communication between the different national and local authorities involved in child custody proceedings. Member States should introduce non-discriminatory monitoring and evaluation systems for child-related cases so as to ensure full respect for the fundamental rights of the child, especially with regard to observing the principle of the best interests of the child.
Migrants, one of the most vulnerable groups in society, need support for their basic needs. We call on the Commission to ensure that all refugee camps and asylum accommodations meet the needs of refugees and provide them with a basic standard of living, in accordance with the principle of respect for human dignity. Member States should work closely with the Commission and strictly follow its guidelines in order to ensure sufficient protection of the fundamental rights of asylum seekers.
Measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic adopted by many Member States have interfered with the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the EU’s legal order. These include freedom of movement of persons, travelling within the EU and within individual countries, freedom of expression and information, and the right to privacy and data protection, especially in relation to public health and the measures taken to safeguard it. We believe that the measures taken to contain the pandemic must be in accordance with the rules and principles of the Charter and the EU’s founding values as laid down in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union, including fundamental rights, the rule of law and democracy.